Kenyan business tycoon Humphrey Kariuki and his wife Stella Nasike are reportedly set to be stripped of their Cyprus citizenships issued under the passports-for-investment program.
Kariuki and Nasike are among 26 foreign investors who are set to lose their Cyprus passports due to strict citizenship rules introduced in the country. The withdrawal of the passports from the affected wealthy investors could be done before next month, according to reports in Cyprus.
Kariuki, a multi-billionaire, has been a dual citizen of Kenya and Cyprus since 2016. He acquired the citizenship under a program where foreigners who invested a minimum of Sh220 million were issued with a Cyprus passport that guarantees visa-free travel across Europe.
Cyprus came under heavy criticism after a report revealed that some individuals used the program to buy passports and hide proceeds of crime on the island. Between 2013 and 2018, the Cyprus Government approved 1,864 citizenship applications under the program.
The Cyprus Mail reported that Kariuki was involved in a financial scam. Also set to lose his Cypriot passport is Chinese national Zhang Shumin, his wife and three children. Shumin is reportedly linked to a gold scam, according to Cyprus Mail.
The move comes three weeks after a Cyprus Cabinet meeting resolved to introduce stricter controls. “If there were nine investment cases, concerning 26 people among 4,000 applications, it is logical that some would be problematic when controls weren’t strict,” Cyprus Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides was quoted by the Cyprus Mail early this month.
“There were mistakes, it was a mistake not to have criteria, for instance, for high-risk persons,” he added.
Kariuki is currently facing charges in a Nairobi court over claims of evading taxes amounting to Sh41 billion through his companies, Wow Beverages, and Africa Spirits Limited.
His Janus Continental Group (JCG) has business interests in a number of countries on energy, real estate, and hospitality, according to Daily Nation. Kariuki also owns Mt Kenya Safari Club and the Hub Mall in Karen, Nairobi, among others.